Florida Senate - 2019                        COMMITTEE AMENDMENT
       Bill No. SB 1636
                              LEGISLATIVE ACTION                        
                    Senate             .             House              
                  Comm: RCS            .                                
                  04/01/2019           .                                

       The Committee on Banking and Insurance (Perry) recommended the
    1         Senate Amendment (with title amendment)
    3         Delete everything after the enacting clause
    4  and insert:
    5         Section 1. Subsection (40) of section 440.02, Florida
    6  Statutes, is amended to read:
    7         440.02 Definitions.—When used in this chapter, unless the
    8  context clearly requires otherwise, the following terms shall
    9  have the following meanings:
   10         (40) “Specificity,” “specific,” or “specifically”
   11  “Specificity” means, for purposes of determining the adequacy of
   12  a petition for benefits under s. 440.192, information on the
   13  petition for benefits sufficient to put the employer or carrier
   14  on notice of the exact statutory classification and outstanding
   15  time period for each requested benefit, the specific amount of
   16  each requested benefit, the calculation used for computing the
   17  specific amount of each requested benefit, and of benefits being
   18  requested and includes a detailed explanation of any such
   19  benefit benefits received that should be increased, decreased,
   20  changed, or otherwise modified. If the petition is for medical
   21  benefits, the information must shall include specific details as
   22  to why such benefits are being requested, including details
   23  demonstrating that such benefits have specifically been denied
   24  by the adjuster responsible for determining whether benefits are
   25  payable to the claimant; why such benefits are medically
   26  necessary;, and why current treatment, if any, is not
   27  sufficient. Any petition requesting alternate or other medical
   28  care, including, but not limited to, petitions requesting
   29  psychiatric or psychological treatment, must specifically
   30  identify the physician, as defined in s. 440.13(1), who is
   31  recommending such treatment. A copy of a report from such
   32  physician making the recommendation for alternate or other
   33  medical care must shall also be attached to the petition, and
   34  the petition must include specific allegations and statements of
   35  fact supporting that the adjuster handling payment of benefits
   36  to the injured employee specifically denied the requested
   37  treatment. A judge of compensation claims may shall not order
   38  such treatment if a physician is not recommending such
   39  treatment.
   40         Section 2. Subsection (3) of section 440.093, Florida
   41  Statutes, is amended to read:
   42         440.093 Mental and nervous injuries.—
   43         (3) Subject to the payment of permanent benefits under s.
   44  440.15, in no event shall temporary benefits for a compensable
   45  mental or nervous injury be paid for more than 6 months after
   46  the date of maximum medical improvement for the injured
   47  employee’s physical injury or injuries, which shall be included
   48  in the maximum number of period of 104 weeks as provided in s.
   49  440.15(2), and (4), and (13). Mental or nervous injuries are
   50  compensable only in accordance with the terms of this section.
   51         Section 3. Paragraph (c) of subsection (3) of section
   52  440.105, Florida Statutes, is amended to read:
   53         440.105 Prohibited activities; reports; penalties;
   54  limitations.—
   55         (3) Whoever violates any provision of this subsection
   56  commits a misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable as
   57  provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.
   58         (c) Except for an attorney retained by an injured employee
   59  and receiving a fee or other consideration from the injured
   60  employee under contract with the injured employee, it is
   61  unlawful for any attorney or other person, in his or her
   62  individual capacity or in his or her capacity as a public or
   63  private employee, or for any firm, corporation, partnership, or
   64  association to receive any fee or other consideration or any
   65  gratuity from a person on account of services rendered for a
   66  claimant person in connection with any proceedings arising under
   67  this chapter, unless such fee, consideration, or gratuity is
   68  approved by a judge of compensation claims or by the Deputy
   69  Chief Judge of Compensation Claims.
   70         Section 4. Subsection (1) of section 440.11, Florida
   71  Statutes, is amended to read:
   72         440.11 Exclusiveness of liability.—
   73         (1) The liability of an employer prescribed in s. 440.10
   74  shall be exclusive and in place of all other liability,
   75  including vicarious liability, of such employer to any third
   76  party tortfeasor and to the employee, the legal representative
   77  thereof, husband or wife, parents, dependents, next of kin, and
   78  anyone otherwise entitled to recover damages from such employer
   79  at law or in admiralty on account of such injury or death,
   80  except as follows:
   81         (a) If an employer fails to secure payment of compensation
   82  as required by this chapter, an injured employee, or the legal
   83  representative thereof in case death results from the injury,
   84  may elect to claim compensation under this chapter or to
   85  maintain an action at law or in admiralty for damages on account
   86  of such injury or death. In such action the defendant may not
   87  plead as a defense that the injury was caused by negligence of a
   88  fellow employee, that the employee assumed the risk of the
   89  employment, or that the injury was due to the comparative
   90  negligence of the employee.
   91         (b) When an employer commits an intentional tort that
   92  causes the injury or death of the employee. For purposes of this
   93  paragraph, an employer’s actions are shall be deemed to
   94  constitute an intentional tort and not an accident only when the
   95  employee proves, by clear and convincing evidence, that:
   96         1. The employer deliberately intended to injure the
   97  employee; or
   98         2. The employer engaged in conduct that the employer knew,
   99  based on prior similar accidents or on explicit warnings
  100  specifically identifying a known danger, was virtually certain
  101  to result in injury or death to the employee, and the employee
  102  was not aware of the risk because the danger was not apparent
  103  and the employer deliberately concealed or misrepresented the
  104  danger so as to prevent the employee from exercising informed
  105  judgment about whether to perform the work.
  107  The same immunities from liability enjoyed by an employer shall
  108  extend as well to each employee of the employer when such
  109  employee is acting in furtherance of the employer’s business and
  110  the injured employee is entitled to receive benefits under this
  111  chapter. Such fellow-employee immunities do not apply shall not
  112  be applicable to an employee who acts, with respect to a fellow
  113  employee, with willful and wanton disregard or unprovoked
  114  physical aggression or with gross negligence when such acts
  115  result in injury or death or such acts proximately cause such
  116  injury or death, nor shall such immunities be applicable to
  117  employees of the same employer when each is operating in the
  118  furtherance of the employer’s business but they are assigned
  119  primarily to unrelated works within private or public
  120  employment. The same immunity provisions enjoyed by an employer
  121  shall also apply to any sole proprietor, partner, corporate
  122  officer or director, supervisor, or other person who in the
  123  course and scope of his or her duties acts in a managerial or
  124  policymaking capacity and the conduct which caused the alleged
  125  injury arose within the course and scope of said managerial or
  126  policymaking duties and was not a violation of a law, whether or
  127  not a violation was charged, for which the maximum penalty which
  128  may be imposed does not exceed 60 days’ imprisonment as set
  129  forth in s. 775.082. The immunity from liability provided in
  130  this subsection extends to county governments with respect to
  131  employees of county constitutional officers whose offices are
  132  funded by the board of county commissioners.
  133         Section 5. Paragraph (a) of subsection (2), paragraph (d)
  134  of subsection (3), paragraphs (a) and (e) of subsection (4), and
  135  subsection (6) of section 440.15, Florida Statutes, are amended,
  136  and subsection (13) is added to that section, to read:
  137         440.15 Compensation for disability.—Compensation for
  138  disability shall be paid to the employee, subject to the limits
  139  provided in s. 440.12(2), as follows:
  141         (a) Subject to subsections subsection (7) and (13), in case
  142  of disability total in character but temporary in quality, 66
  143  2/3 or 66.67 percent of the average weekly wages must shall be
  144  paid to the employee during the continuance thereof, not to
  145  exceed 104 weeks except as provided in this subsection, s.
  146  440.12 s. 440.12(1), and s. 440.14 s. 440.14(3). Once the
  147  employee reaches the maximum number of weeks allowed, or the
  148  employee reaches overall the date of maximum medical
  149  improvement, whichever occurs earlier, temporary disability
  150  benefits must shall cease and the injured worker’s permanent
  151  impairment must shall be determined.
  153         (d) After the employee has been certified by a doctor as
  154  having reached maximum medical improvement or 6 weeks before the
  155  expiration of temporary benefits, whichever occurs earlier, the
  156  certifying doctor shall evaluate the condition of the employee
  157  and assign an impairment rating, using the impairment schedule
  158  referred to in paragraph (b). If the certification and
  159  evaluation are performed by a doctor other than the employee’s
  160  treating doctor, the certification and evaluation must be
  161  submitted to the treating doctor, the employee, and the carrier
  162  within 10 days after the evaluation. The treating doctor must
  163  indicate to the carrier agreement or disagreement with the other
  164  doctor’s certification and evaluation.
  165         1. The certifying doctor shall issue a written report to
  166  the employee and the carrier certifying that maximum medical
  167  improvement has been reached, stating the impairment rating to
  168  the body as a whole, and providing any other information
  169  required by the department by rule. The carrier shall establish
  170  an overall maximum medical improvement date and permanent
  171  impairment rating, based upon all such reports.
  172         2. Within 14 days after the carrier’s knowledge of each
  173  maximum medical improvement date and impairment rating to the
  174  body as a whole upon which the carrier is paying benefits, the
  175  carrier shall report such maximum medical improvement date and,
  176  when determined, the overall maximum medical improvement date
  177  and associated impairment rating to the department in a format
  178  as set forth in department rule. If the employee has not been
  179  certified as having reached overall maximum medical improvement
  180  before the expiration of 254 98 weeks after the date temporary
  181  disability benefits begin to accrue, the carrier shall notify
  182  the treating doctor of the requirements of this section.
  183         3.If an employee receiving benefits under subsection (2),
  184  subsection (4), or both subsections (2) and (4) has not reached
  185  overall maximum medical improvement before receiving the maximum
  186  number of weeks of temporary disability benefits described in
  187  subsection (13), the employee must receive benefits under this
  188  subsection for an injury resulting from the accident in
  189  accordance with the estimated impairment rating for the body as
  190  a whole; or, if multiple injuries are sustained, in accordance
  191  with the estimated combined impairment ratings for the body as a
  192  whole in the 1996 Florida Uniform Permanent Impairment Rating
  193  Schedule. Impairment benefits received under this subparagraph
  194  must be credited against indemnity benefits subsequently due to
  195  the employee.
  197         (a) Subject to subsections (6), subsection (7), and (13),
  198  in case of temporary partial disability, compensation must shall
  199  be equal to 80 percent of the difference between 80 percent of
  200  the employee’s average weekly wage and the salary, wages, and
  201  other remuneration the employee is able to earn postinjury, as
  202  compared weekly; however, weekly temporary partial disability
  203  benefits may not exceed an amount equal to 66 2/3 or 66.67
  204  percent of the employee’s average weekly wage at the time of
  205  accident. In order to simplify the comparison of the preinjury
  206  average weekly wage with the salary, wages, and other
  207  remuneration the employee is able to earn postinjury, the
  208  department may by rule provide for payment of the initial
  209  installment of temporary partial disability benefits to be paid
  210  as a partial week so that payment for remaining weeks of
  211  temporary partial disability can coincide as closely as possible
  212  with the postinjury employer’s work week. The amount determined
  213  to be the salary, wages, and other remuneration the employee is
  214  able to earn shall in no case be less than the sum actually
  215  being earned by the employee, including earnings from sheltered
  216  employment. Benefits are shall be payable under this subsection
  217  only if overall maximum medical improvement has not been reached
  218  and the medical conditions resulting from the accident create
  219  restrictions on the injured employee’s ability to return to
  220  work.
  221         (e) Subject to subsections (6), (7), and (13), such
  222  benefits must shall be paid during the continuance of such
  223  disability, not to exceed a period of 104 weeks, as provided by
  224  this subsection and subsection (2). Once the injured employee
  225  reaches the maximum number of weeks, temporary disability
  226  benefits cease and the injured worker’s permanent impairment
  227  must be determined. If the employee is terminated from
  228  postinjury employment based on the employee’s misconduct,
  229  temporary partial disability benefits are not payable as
  230  provided for in this section. The department shall by rule
  231  specify forms and procedures governing the method and time for
  232  payment of temporary disability benefits for dates of accidents
  233  before January 1, 1994, and for dates of accidents on or after
  234  January 1, 1994.
  235         (6) EMPLOYEE REFUSES EMPLOYMENT.—If an injured employee
  236  refuses employment suitable to the capacity thereof, offered to
  237  or procured therefor, such employee is shall not be entitled to
  238  any compensation at any time during the continuance of such
  239  refusal unless at any time in the opinion of the judge of
  240  compensation claims such refusal is justifiable. Time periods
  241  for the payment of benefits in accordance with this section must
  242  shall be counted in determining the limitation of benefits as
  243  provided for in subsection (13) paragraphs (2)(a), (3)(c), and
  244  (4)(b).
  245         (13) MAXIMUM BENEFITS ALLOWED.—The total number of weeks of
  246  benefits received by an employee for temporary total disability
  247  payable pursuant to subsection (2), temporary partial disability
  248  payable pursuant to subsection (4), and temporary total
  249  disability payable pursuant to s. 440.491 may not exceed 260
  250  weeks.
  251         Section 6. Section 440.1915, Florida Statutes, is created
  252  to read:
  253         440.1915 Notice regarding payment of attorney fees.—Before
  254  engaging an attorney or other representative for services
  255  related to a petition for benefits under s. 440.192 or s.
  256  440.25, an injured employee or any other party making a claim
  257  for benefits under this chapter through an attorney shall attest
  258  with his or her personal signature that he or she has reviewed,
  259  understands, and acknowledges the following statement, which
  260  must be in at least 14-point bold type: “THE WORKERS’
  269  BEFORE YOU SIGN IT.” If the injured employee or other party does
  270  not sign or refuses to sign the document attesting that he or
  271  she has reviewed, understands, and acknowledges the statement,
  272  the injured employee or other party making a claim under this
  273  chapter may not proceed with a petition for benefits under s.
  274  440.192 or s. 440.25, except pro se, until such signature is
  275  obtained.
  276         Section 7. Subsections (2), (4), (5), and (7) of section
  277  440.192, Florida Statutes, are amended, and subsection (1) of
  278  that section is republished, to read:
  279         440.192 Procedure for resolving benefit disputes.—
  280         (1) Any employee may, for any benefit that is ripe, due,
  281  and owing, file with the Office of the Judges of Compensation
  282  Claims a petition for benefits which meets the requirements of
  283  this section and the definition of specificity in s. 440.02. An
  284  employee represented by an attorney shall file by electronic
  285  means approved by the Deputy Chief Judge. An employee not
  286  represented by an attorney may file by certified mail or by
  287  electronic means approved by the Deputy Chief Judge. The
  288  department shall inform employees of the location of the Office
  289  of the Judges of Compensation Claims and the office’s website
  290  address for purposes of filing a petition for benefits. The
  291  employee shall also serve copies of the petition for benefits by
  292  certified mail, or by electronic means approved by the Deputy
  293  Chief Judge, upon the employer and the employer’s carrier. The
  294  Deputy Chief Judge shall refer the petitions to the judges of
  295  compensation claims.
  296         (2) Upon receipt of a petition, the Office of the Judges of
  297  Compensation Claims, or upon motion, the assigned judge of
  298  compensation claims, shall review the each petition and shall
  299  dismiss the each petition or any portion of the such a petition
  300  which that does not comply with the requirements of this
  301  section, does not meet the definition of specificity under s.
  302  440.02(40), and does not on its face specifically identify or
  303  itemize the following:
  304         (a) The name, address, and telephone number, and social
  305  security number of the employee.
  306         (b) The name, address, and telephone number of the
  307  employer.
  308         (c) A detailed description of the injury and cause of the
  309  injury, including the location of the occurrence and the date or
  310  dates of the accident and the county in this state or, if the
  311  accident occurred outside of this state, the state where the
  312  accident occurred.
  313         (d) A detailed description of the employee’s job, work
  314  responsibilities, and work the employee was performing when the
  315  injury occurred.
  316         (e) The specific time period for which compensation and the
  317  specific classification of compensation were not timely
  318  provided.
  319         (f) The specific date of maximum medical improvement,
  320  character of disability, and specific statement of all benefits
  321  or compensation that the employee is seeking. A claim for
  322  permanent benefits must include the specific date of maximum
  323  medical improvement and the specific date on which such
  324  permanent benefits are claimed to begin.
  325         (g) All specific travel costs to which the employee
  326  believes she or he is entitled, including dates of travel and
  327  purpose of travel, means of transportation, and mileage and
  328  including the date the request for mileage was filed with the
  329  carrier and a copy of the request filed with the carrier.
  330         (h) Specific listing of all medical charges alleged unpaid,
  331  including the name and address of the medical provider, the
  332  amounts due, and the specific dates of treatment.
  333         (i) The type or nature of treatment care or attendance
  334  sought and the justification for such treatment. If the employee
  335  is under the care of a physician for an injury identified under
  336  paragraph (c), a copy of the physician’s request, authorization,
  337  or recommendation for treatment, care, or attendance must
  338  accompany the petition.
  339         (j) The specific amount of compensation claimed and the
  340  methodology used the calculate the average weekly wage, if the
  341  average weekly wage calculated by the employer or carrier is
  342  disputed. There is a rebuttable presumption that the average
  343  weekly wage and corresponding compensation calculated by the
  344  employer or carrier is accurate.
  345         (k) Specific explanation of any other disputed issue that a
  346  judge of compensation claims will be called to rule upon.
  347         (l)The signed attestation required pursuant to s.
  348  440.1915.
  349         (m)Certification and evidence of a good faith attempt to
  350  resolve the dispute pursuant to subsection (4).
  352  The dismissal of any petition or portion of such a petition
  353  under this subsection section is without prejudice and does not
  354  require a hearing.
  355         (4)(a)Before filing a petition, the claimant, or if the
  356  claimant is represented by counsel, the claimant’s attorney,
  357  shall make a good faith effort to resolve the dispute. The
  358  petition must include:
  359         1. A certification by the claimant or, if the claimant is
  360  represented by counsel, the claimant’s attorney, stating that
  361  the claimant, or attorney if the claimant is represented by
  362  counsel, has made a good faith effort to resolve the dispute and
  363  that the claimant or attorney was unable to resolve the dispute
  364  with the carrier, or the employer if self-insured; and
  365         2.Evidence demonstrating such good faith attempt to
  366  resolve the dispute as described in the certification.
  367         (b)If the petition is not dismissed under subsection (2),
  368  the judge of compensation claims has jurisdiction to determine,
  369  in his or her independent discretion, whether a good faith
  370  effort to resolve the dispute was made by the claimant or the
  371  claimant’s attorney. If the judge of compensation claims
  372  determines that the claimant or the claimant’s attorney did not
  373  make a good faith effort to resolve the dispute before filing
  374  the petition for benefits, the judge of compensation claims must
  375  dismiss the petition and may impose sanctions to ensure
  376  compliance with this subsection, which may include, but are not
  377  limited to, assessment of attorney fees payable by the
  378  claimant’s attorney.
  379         (5)(a) All motions to dismiss must state with particularity
  380  the basis for the motion. The judge of compensation claims shall
  381  enter an order upon such motions without hearing, unless good
  382  cause for hearing is shown. Dismissal of any petition or portion
  383  of a petition under this subsection is without prejudice.
  384         (b)Upon motion that a petition or a portion of a petition
  385  be dismissed for lack of specificity, a judge of compensation
  386  claims shall enter an order on the motion, unless stipulated in
  387  writing by the parties, within 10 days after the motion is
  388  filed, or, if good cause for a hearing is shown, within 20 days
  389  after a hearing on the motion. When any petition or portion of a
  390  petition is dismissed for lack of specificity under this
  391  subsection, the claimant must be allowed 20 days after the date
  392  of the order of dismissal in which to file an amended petition.
  393  Any grounds for dismissal for lack of specificity under this
  394  section which are not asserted within 30 days after receipt of
  395  the petition for benefits are thereby waived.
  396         (7) Notwithstanding the provisions of s. 440.34, a judge of
  397  compensation claims may not award attorney attorney’s fees
  398  payable by the employer or carrier for services expended or
  399  costs incurred before: prior to
  400         (a) The filing of a petition that meets the definition of
  401  specificity under s. 440.02(40) and that includes all items
  402  required under subsection (2); and
  403         (b)The claimant or the claimant’s attorney, if the
  404  claimant is represented by counsel, has made a good faith effort
  405  to resolve the dispute does not meet the requirements of this
  406  section.
  407         Section 8. Paragraph (c) of subsection (11) of section
  408  440.20, Florida Statutes, is amended to read:
  409         440.20 Time for payment of compensation and medical bills;
  410  penalties for late payment.—
  411         (11)
  412         (c) Notwithstanding s. 440.21(2), when a claimant is
  413  represented by counsel, the claimant may waive all rights to any
  414  and all benefits under this chapter by entering into a
  415  settlement agreement releasing the employer and the carrier from
  416  liability for workers’ compensation benefits in exchange for a
  417  lump-sum payment to the claimant. The settlement agreement need
  418  not be approved requires approval by the judge of compensation
  419  claims, and only as to the attorney’s fees paid to the
  420  claimant’s attorney by the claimant. the parties need not submit
  421  any information or documentation in support of the settlement,
  422  except for as needed to justify the amount of the settlement and
  423  the attorney attorney’s fees and costs paid by the claimant to
  424  the claimant’s attorney. Neither the employer nor the carrier is
  425  responsible for any attorney attorney’s fees relating to the
  426  settlement and release of claims under this section. Payment of
  427  the lump-sum settlement amount must be made within 14 days after
  428  the date the judge of compensation claims mails the order
  429  approving the settlement allocation’s recovery of child support
  430  arrearages under paragraph (d) attorney’s fees. Any order
  431  entered by a judge of compensation claims approving the
  432  attorney’s fees as set out in the settlement under this
  433  subsection is not considered to be an award and is not subject
  434  to modification or review. The judge of compensation claims
  435  shall report these settlements to the Deputy Chief Judge in
  436  accordance with the requirements set forth in paragraphs (a) and
  437  (b). Settlements entered into under this subsection are valid
  438  and apply to all dates of accident.
  439         Section 9. Paragraphs (d), (h), and (j) of subsection (4)
  440  of section 440.25, Florida Statutes, are amended to read:
  441         440.25 Procedures for mediation and hearings.—
  442         (4)
  443         (d) The final hearing shall be held within 210 days after
  444  receipt of the petition for benefits in the county where the
  445  injury occurred, if the injury occurred in this state, unless
  446  otherwise agreed to between the parties and authorized by the
  447  judge of compensation claims in the county where the injury
  448  occurred. However, the claimant may waive the timeframes within
  449  this section for good cause shown. If the injury occurred
  450  outside the state and is one for which compensation is payable
  451  under this chapter, then the final hearing may be held in the
  452  county of the employer’s residence or place of business, or in
  453  any other county of the state that will, in the discretion of
  454  the Deputy Chief Judge, be the most convenient for a hearing. At
  455  least 15 days before hearing, the claimant’s attorney shall file
  456  a personal attestation detailing his or her hours to date
  457  related to the issues set for hearing. The personal attestation
  458  by the claimant’s attorney must specifically allocate the hours
  459  by each benefit claimed and account for hours relating to
  460  multiple benefits in a manner that apportions such hours by
  461  percentage, in whole numbers, to each benefit. The final hearing
  462  shall be conducted by a judge of compensation claims, who shall,
  463  within 30 days after final hearing or closure of the hearing
  464  record, unless otherwise agreed by the parties, enter a final
  465  order on the merits of the disputed issues. The judge of
  466  compensation claims may enter an abbreviated final order in
  467  cases in which compensability is not disputed. Either party may
  468  request separate findings of fact and conclusions of law. At the
  469  final hearing, the claimant and employer may each present
  470  evidence with respect to the claims presented by the petition
  471  for benefits and may be represented by any attorney authorized
  472  in writing for such purpose. When there is a conflict in the
  473  medical evidence submitted at the hearing, the provisions of s.
  474  440.13 shall apply. The report or testimony of the expert
  475  medical advisor shall be admitted into evidence in a proceeding
  476  and all costs incurred in connection with such examination and
  477  testimony may be assessed as costs in the proceeding, subject to
  478  the provisions of s. 440.13. No judge of compensation claims may
  479  make a finding of a degree of permanent impairment that is
  480  greater than the greatest permanent impairment rating given the
  481  claimant by any examining or treating physician, except upon
  482  stipulation of the parties. Any benefit due but not raised at
  483  the final hearing which was ripe, due, or owing at the time of
  484  the final hearing is waived.
  485         (h) To further expedite dispute resolution and to enhance
  486  the self-executing features of the system, those petitions filed
  487  in accordance with s. 440.192 that involve a claim for benefits
  488  of $5,000 or less shall, in the absence of compelling evidence
  489  to the contrary, are be presumed to be appropriate for expedited
  490  resolution under this paragraph; and any other claim filed in
  491  accordance with s. 440.192, upon the written agreement of both
  492  parties and application by either party, may similarly be
  493  resolved under this paragraph. A claim in a petition of $5,000
  494  or less for medical benefits only or a petition for
  495  reimbursement for mileage for medical purposes must shall, in
  496  the absence of compelling evidence to the contrary, be resolved
  497  through the expedited dispute resolution process provided in
  498  this paragraph. For purposes of expedited resolution pursuant to
  499  this paragraph, the Deputy Chief Judge shall make provision by
  500  rule or order for expedited and limited discovery and expedited
  501  docketing in such cases. At least 15 days before prior to
  502  hearing, the parties shall exchange and file with the judge of
  503  compensation claims a pretrial outline of all issues, defenses,
  504  and witnesses, including a personal attestation by the
  505  claimant’s attorney detailing his or her hours to date, on a
  506  form adopted by the Deputy Chief Judge,; provided that, in no
  507  event shall such hearing may not be held without 15 days’
  508  written notice to all parties. The personal attestation by the
  509  claimant’s attorney must specifically allocate the hours by each
  510  benefit claimed and account for hours relating to multiple
  511  benefits in a manner that apportions such hours by percentage,
  512  in whole numbers, to each benefit. No pretrial hearing shall be
  513  held and no mediation scheduled unless requested by a party. The
  514  judge of compensation claims shall limit all argument and
  515  presentation of evidence at the hearing to a maximum of 30
  516  minutes, and such hearings shall not exceed 30 minutes in
  517  length. Neither party shall be required to be represented by
  518  counsel. The employer or carrier may be represented by an
  519  adjuster or other qualified representative. The employer or
  520  carrier and any witness may appear at such hearing by telephone.
  521  The rules of evidence shall be liberally construed in favor of
  522  allowing introduction of evidence.
  523         (j) A judge of compensation claims may not award interest
  524  on unpaid medical bills and the amount of such bills may not be
  525  used to calculate the amount of interest awarded. Regardless of
  526  the date benefits are were initially requested, attorney
  527  attorney’s fees do not attach under this subsection until 45
  528  business 30 days after the date on which a the carrier or self
  529  insured employer receives the petition is filed with the Office
  530  of the Judges of Compensation Claims and unless the following
  531  conditions are met:
  532         1.Before the petition is filed, the claimant or the
  533  claimant’s attorney, if the claimant is represented by counsel,
  534  makes a good faith effort to resolve the dispute as provided in
  535  s. 440.192(4); and
  536         2.The petition meets the definition of specificity under
  537  s. 440.02(40) and includes all items required under s.
  538  440.192(2).
  539         Section 10. Section 440.34, Florida Statutes, is amended to
  540  read:
  541         440.34 Attorney Attorney’s fees; costs.—
  542         (1)(a)A judge of compensation claims may award attorney
  543  fees payable to the claimant pursuant to this section to be paid
  544  by the employer or carrier. An employer or carrier is not
  545  responsible for payment of a fee, gratuity, costs, or other
  546  consideration may not be paid for a claimant in connection with
  547  any proceedings arising under this chapter, unless approved by
  548  the judge of compensation claims or court having jurisdiction
  549  over such proceedings. Attorney fees payable by the employer or
  550  carrier and Any attorney’s fee approved by a judge of
  551  compensation claims for benefits secured on behalf of a claimant
  552  must equal to 20 percent of the first $5,000 of the amount of
  553  the benefits secured, 15 percent of the next $5,000 of the
  554  amount of the benefits secured, 10 percent of the remaining
  555  amount of the benefits secured to be provided during the first
  556  10 years after the date the claim is filed, and 5 percent of the
  557  benefits secured after 10 years.
  558         (b)A The judge of compensation claims shall not approve a
  559  compensation order, a joint stipulation for lump-sum settlement,
  560  a stipulation or agreement between a claimant and his or her
  561  attorney, or any other agreement related to benefits under this
  562  chapter which provides for an attorney’s fee in excess of the
  563  amount permitted by this section. The judge of compensation
  564  claims is not required to approve any retainer agreement between
  565  the claimant and his or her attorney is not subject to approval
  566  by a judge of compensation claims, but must be filed with the
  567  Office of the Judges of Compensation Claims. An attorney
  568  retained by an injured employee shall, before receiving a fee or
  569  other consideration from the injured employee, report the
  570  amounts of such attorney fees to the judge of compensation
  571  claims having jurisdiction over the claim for benefits based on
  572  the county in which the accident occurred; or, if the accident
  573  occurred outside of this state, to the Deputy Chief Judge.
  574  Notwithstanding s. 440.22, attorney fees are a lien upon
  575  compensation payable to the claimant The retainer agreement as
  576  to fees and costs may not be for compensation in excess of the
  577  amount allowed under this subsection or subsection (7).
  578         (2)(a) In awarding a claimant’s attorney fees payable by
  579  the employer or carrier attorney’s fee, a the judge of
  580  compensation claims shall consider only those benefits secured
  581  by the attorney. An Attorney is not entitled to attorney’s fees
  582  are not payable by the employer or carrier for:
  583         1. Representation in any issue that was ripe, due, and
  584  owing and that reasonably could have been addressed, but was not
  585  addressed, during the pendency of other issues for the same
  586  injury;
  587         2.Claimant attorney hours reasonably related to a benefit
  588  upon which the claimant did not prevail; or
  589         3.Claimant attorney hours reasonably related to a petition
  590  for benefits, if the judge of compensation claims determines
  591  that the claimant or the claimant’s attorney did not make a good
  592  faith effort to resolve the dispute before filing the petition,
  593  regardless of whether the petition is dismissed by the judge of
  594  compensation claims, the claimant, or the claimant’s attorney.
  595         (b) The amount, statutory basis, and type of benefits
  596  obtained through legal representation must shall be listed on
  597  all attorney attorney’s fees awarded by a the judge of
  598  compensation claims which are payable by the employer or
  599  carrier. For purposes of this section, the term “benefits
  600  secured” does not include future medical benefits to be provided
  601  on any date more than 5 years after the date the petition claim
  602  is filed. If In the event an offer to settle an issue pending
  603  before a judge of compensation claims, including attorney
  604  attorney’s fees as provided for in this section, is communicated
  605  in writing to the claimant or the claimant’s attorney at least
  606  30 days before prior to the trial date on such issue, for
  607  purposes of calculating the amount of attorney attorney’s fees
  608  to be taxed against the employer or carrier, the term “benefits
  609  secured” includes shall be deemed to include only that amount
  610  awarded to the claimant above the amount specified in the offer
  611  to settle. If multiple issues are pending before a the judge of
  612  compensation claims, such said offer of settlement must shall
  613  address each issue pending and shall state explicitly whether or
  614  not the offer on each issue is severable. The written offer must
  615  shall also unequivocally state whether or not it includes
  616  medical witness fees and expenses and all other costs associated
  617  with the claim.
  618         (3) If a any party prevails should prevail in any
  619  proceedings before a judge of compensation claims or court,
  620  there shall be taxed against the nonprevailing party the
  621  reasonable costs of such proceedings, not to include attorney
  622  attorney’s fees. A claimant is responsible for the payment of
  623  her or his own attorney attorney’s fees, except that a claimant
  624  is entitled to recover attorney fees an attorney’s fee in an
  625  amount equal to the amount provided for in subsection (1) or
  626  subsection (5) (7) from a carrier or employer:
  627         (a) Against whom she or he successfully asserts a petition
  628  for medical benefits only, if the claimant has not filed or is
  629  not entitled to file at such time a claim for temporary or
  630  permanent disability, permanent impairment, wage-loss, or death
  631  benefits, arising out of the same accident;
  632         (b) In a any case in which the employer or carrier files a
  633  response to petition denying benefits with the Office of the
  634  Judges of Compensation Claims and the injured person has
  635  employed an attorney in the successful prosecution of the
  636  petition;
  637         (c) In a proceeding in which a carrier or employer denies
  638  that an accident occurred for which compensation benefits are
  639  payable, and the claimant prevails on the issue of
  640  compensability; or
  641         (d) In cases in which where the claimant successfully
  642  prevails in proceedings filed under s. 440.24 or s. 440.28.
  644  Regardless of the date benefits are were initially requested,
  645  attorney attorney’s fees do shall not attach under this
  646  subsection until 45 business 30 days after the date on which a
  647  the carrier or employer, if self-insured, receives the petition
  648  that meets the definition of specificity under s. 440.02(40) and
  649  includes all items required under s. 440.192(2) is filed with
  650  the Office of the Judges of Compensation Claims. Such attorney
  651  fees do not attach unless before the petition was filed, the
  652  claimant or the claimant’s attorney, if the claimant is
  653  represented by counsel, made a good faith effort to resolve the
  654  dispute as provided in s. 440.192(4).
  655         (4) In such cases in which the claimant is responsible for
  656  the payment of her or his own attorney’s fees, such fees are a
  657  lien upon compensation payable to the claimant, notwithstanding
  658  s. 440.22.
  659         (4)(5) If any proceedings are had for review of a any
  660  claim, award, or compensation order before any court, the court
  661  may, at its discretion, award the injured employee or dependent
  662  attorney fees payable an attorney’s fee to be paid by the
  663  employer or carrier if the injured employee or dependent
  664  prevails in the proceeding. The award of attorney fees may not
  665  exceed an hourly rate of $150 per hour if the proceeding
  666  occurred because the employer or carrier disputed the claim,
  667  award, or compensation order, in its discretion, which shall be
  668  paid as the court may direct.
  669         (6) A judge of compensation claims may not enter an order
  670  approving the contents of a retainer agreement that permits
  671  placing any portion of the employee’s compensation into an
  672  escrow account until benefits have been secured.
  673         (5)(7) If attorney fees are an attorney’s fee is owed under
  674  paragraph (3)(a), the judge of compensation claims may award
  675  approve an alternative attorney fees payable by the employer or
  676  carrier, attorney’s fee not to exceed $1,500 and only once per
  677  accident, based on a maximum hourly rate of $150 per hour, if
  678  the judge of compensation claims expressly finds that the
  679  attorney attorney’s fee schedule amount provided for in
  680  subsection (1), based on benefits secured, results in an
  681  effective hourly rate of less than $150 per hour fails to fairly
  682  compensate the attorney for disputed medical-only claims as
  683  provided in paragraph (3)(a) and the circumstances of the
  684  particular case warrant such action. Attorney fees payable by
  685  the employer or carrier under this subsection are in lieu of,
  686  rather than in addition to, any other attorney fees available
  687  under this section.
  688         Section 11. Paragraph (b) of subsection (6) of section
  689  440.491, Florida Statutes, is amended to read:
  690         440.491 Reemployment of injured workers; rehabilitation.—
  691         (6) TRAINING AND EDUCATION.—
  692         (b) When an employee who has attained maximum medical
  693  improvement is unable to earn at least 80 percent of the
  694  compensation rate and requires training and education to obtain
  695  suitable gainful employment, the employer or carrier shall pay
  696  the employee additional training and education temporary total
  697  compensation benefits while the employee receives such training
  698  and education for a period not to exceed 26 weeks, which period
  699  may be extended for an additional 26 weeks or less, if such
  700  extended period is determined to be necessary and proper by a
  701  judge of compensation claims. The benefits provided under this
  702  paragraph are shall not be in addition to the maximum number of
  703  104 weeks as specified in s. 440.15(2) or s. 440.15(13).
  704  However, a carrier or employer is not precluded from voluntarily
  705  paying additional temporary total disability compensation beyond
  706  that period. If an employee requires temporary residence at or
  707  near a facility or an institution providing training and
  708  education which is located more than 50 miles away from the
  709  employee’s customary residence, the reasonable cost of board,
  710  lodging, or travel must be borne by the department from the
  711  Workers’ Compensation Administration Trust Fund established by
  712  s. 440.50. An employee who refuses to accept training and
  713  education that is recommended by the vocational evaluator and
  714  considered necessary by the department will forfeit any
  715  additional training and education benefits and any additional
  716  compensation payment for lost wages under this chapter. The
  717  carrier shall notify the injured employee of the availability of
  718  training and education benefits as specified in this chapter.
  719  The Department of Financial Services shall include information
  720  regarding the eligibility for training and education benefits in
  721  informational materials specified in ss. 440.207 and 440.40.
  722         Section 12. This act shall take effect July 1, 2019.
  724  ================= T I T L E  A M E N D M E N T ================
  725  And the title is amended as follows:
  726         Delete everything before the enacting clause
  727  and insert:
  728                        A bill to be entitled                      
  729         An act relating to workers’ compensation; amending s.
  730         440.02, F.S.; redefining the term “specificity”;
  731         amending s. 440.093, F.S.; conforming a provision to
  732         changes made by the act; amending s. 440.105, F.S.;
  733         revising a prohibition against persons receiving
  734         certain fees, consideration, or gratuities under the
  735         Workers’ Compensation Law; amending s. 440.11, F.S.;
  736         deleting an exception from fellow-employee immunities
  737         from liability; amending s. 440.15, F.S.; increasing
  738         the maximum number of weeks of benefits payable for
  739         temporary total disability, temporary partial
  740         disability, and permanent impairment benefits;
  741         revising the timeframe under which a carrier must
  742         provide certain notice to an employee’s treating
  743         doctor; specifying permanent impairment benefits
  744         payable to certain employees who have not reached
  745         overall maximum medical improvement within a certain
  746         timeframe; requiring that such impairment benefits be
  747         credited against subsequently due indemnity benefits;
  748         deleting a requirement that temporary disability
  749         benefits cease and that the injured worker’s permanent
  750         impairment be determined after a certain timeframe;
  751         creating s. 440.1915, F.S.; requiring injured
  752         employees and other claimants to sign and attest to a
  753         specified statement relating to the payment of
  754         attorney fees before engaging an attorney or other
  755         representative for certain purposes; prohibiting such
  756         injured employees or claimants from proceeding with a
  757         petition for benefits, except pro se, until the
  758         signature is obtained; amending s. 440.192, F.S.;
  759         revising conditions under which a petition for
  760         benefits or portion of the petition must be dismissed
  761         by the Office of the Judges of Compensation Claims or
  762         the assigned judge of compensation claims; revising
  763         the information required in the petition; providing
  764         construction; requiring claimants and their attorneys
  765         to make a good faith effort to resolve the dispute
  766         before filing a petition; requiring that petitions
  767         include evidence demonstrating such good faith effort;
  768         authorizing judges of compensation claims to determine
  769         if such effort was made; requiring the judge of
  770         compensation claims to dismiss the petition, and
  771         authorizing the imposition of sanctions, if he or she
  772         finds such effort was not made; providing that certain
  773         dismissals are without prejudice; specifying
  774         timeframes within which a judge of compensation claims
  775         must enter an order on certain motions to dismiss;
  776         revising conditions under which judges of compensation
  777         claims are prohibited from awarding attorney fees;
  778         amending s. 440.20, F.S.; providing that certain
  779         settlement agreements need not be approved by the
  780         judge of compensation claims; revising the information
  781         required to be submitted by the parties to such a
  782         settlement; revising the timeframe under which a lump
  783         sum settlement amount must be paid; amending s.
  784         440.25, F.S.; requiring a claimant’s attorney, under
  785         certain circumstances and within certain timeframes,
  786         to file a specified personal attestation detailing his
  787         or her hours to date; revising the timeframe and
  788         conditions under which attorney fees attach to certain
  789         proceedings; amending s. 440.34, F.S.; authorizing
  790         judges of compensation claims to award attorney fees
  791         to claimants to be paid by the employer or carrier;
  792         specifying applicability of attorney fee provisions to
  793         attorney fees payable by employers or carriers;
  794         providing that employers and carriers are not
  795         responsible for costs unless approved by the judge of
  796         compensation claims or a court having jurisdiction;
  797         deleting a prohibition against a judge of compensation
  798         claims’ approval of agreements providing for attorney
  799         fees in excess of certain amounts; requiring that
  800         retainer agreements be filed with the office;
  801         specifying requirements for attorneys of injured
  802         employees in reporting attorney fees; revising
  803         attorney fees that are a lien upon payable
  804         compensation; deleting a certain limitation on
  805         retainer agreements; specifying claimant attorney
  806         hours for which attorney fees are not payable by
  807         employers or carriers; revising circumstances under
  808         which claimants are entitled to recover attorney fees
  809         from carriers or employers; revising the timeframe and
  810         conditions under which attorney fees attach;
  811         specifying a limit on the hourly rates of certain
  812         attorney fees awarded to injured employees or
  813         dependents; specifying a condition before such
  814         attorney fees may be awarded; deleting a prohibition
  815         against a judge of compensation claims entering an
  816         order approving certain retainer agreements; revising
  817         circumstances under which a judge of compensation
  818         claims may award alternative attorney fees payable by
  819         the carrier or employer; providing construction;
  820         amending s. 440.491, F.S.; providing that an employee
  821         who refuses certain training and education forfeits
  822         any additional compensation, rather than payment for
  823         lost wages; conforming a provision to changes made by
  824         the act; providing an effective date.